Two accidents within 2 hours and more energy than the Tasmanian Devil, was what this adorable little girl met me with. Meet Zara. An eight month old Akita mix and my 3rd foster.
I won’t forget the memorable first 12 hours with this fuzzball. We took a very long walk on that Thursday night to try and eliminate some energy and empty the bladder, but failed at successfully doing either. It was like paws on the carpet was her sign to turn on that bladder, run through the apartment like a tornado and see how many times she could drink out of the toilet bowl before I got reeeeeeaally angry. “Two days” I kept telling myself, “two days.” Saturday was around the corner and when Found Nation holds their adoption events. I hate to admit this, but I was hopeful someone would snatch her up and that would be the end of our time together. (Spoiler alert: She didn’t get adopted that first Saturday.)
As I left for work Friday morning, I put Zara in her crate fully preparing myself for the mess I’d come home to. I kept reminding myself it would be contained in her crate so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I could totally put up with messes for a couple of days.
When I arrived home, I tip-toed slowly toward her metal crate, squinting my eyes as if not having them open all the way would prevent me from seeing the whole mess. I reached down to open the crate and what?! Not one item in her crate was out of place. There was no water spilled or blankets chewed. Just a wagging tail and an irresistible face looking back at me. She walked calmly out of her crate into the sunlight shining through the porch window, stretching every couple a steps. I was in disbelief. Who was this dog and where did the spaztastic Zara go?
It would only take a calm couple of hours to realize, the puppy I had met the night before was simply a nervous little thing. A sweet soul thrown into a new environment and trying to find some normalcy, comfort and love in this different space.
I could on and on and on, hour by hour on how much this girl impacted me over our short 2 weeks together, but I’ll spare you and get to the point. Can’t we as humans be very similar? Searching for normalcy, comfort, and love in a life that throws so much change at us? Seeing Zara’s reaction to change reminded me we must always scratch below the surface and give someone the chance before we even begin to analyze or take any actions personally.
Think of it like this. Have you ever bought one of those scratch off lottery tickets? The ones that usually make it into a cute game of matching pictures, numbers – something – in order to be a winner. How often do you buy one of those tickets, stare at it and decide if you’ve won or not? My guess is probably never. Instead you scratch beyond the surface to learn more about what is underneath the gray area.
What if we took that approach with who we encountered daily? What if we took the time to “scratch below the surface” and get to know more about who someone is and what they are going through before we get frustrated or aggravated with them? Much like Zara, though we have language, we can’t always find adequate ways to express our emotions. We sometimes become that tornado running through life. Not because we woke up and thought “I’m going to go nuts today, have no patience and be mean to everyone I counter,” but because we are at a loss for how to deal with the situation(s).
It was an important reminder for me with Zara, that my actions don’t need to be driven as a result of what someone does for/to me. I’m the one in control of me. I can always extend love, grace, forgiveness, and patience every single day.
This week I challenge you to ask, listen, extend a hand, smile, hug, or give a compliment in circumstances where that isn’t your first instinct. Be conscious and deliberate about your actions instead of waiting on someone to make the first move. Show grace instead of running to gossip and think about how you can bring joy to someone instead of delivering judgement.
And if you are the one flooded with anger, frustrations, sadness, resentment, or any array of feelings bottled up inside, show your strength. Ask for help, ask for an ear, seek a hug and know it’s okay to be on the receiving end. In fact, sometimes receiving love, grace or patience, is equally as important as giving it.